Inside: You may be doing these six bad habits that create clutter without even realizing it. Learn how to break them and create the clutter-free space of your dreams!

Are you struggling to deal with the amount of clutter in your home?

Do you wonder how it got that way in the first place?

Chances are, your personal habits had something to do with it.

Your habits can make your home incredibly cluttered – or help you keep it immaculately clean. 

Keep reading to understand why clutter is such a big deal, what bad habits that create clutter that you may be doing without knowing it – and get some suggestions for habits that’ll help you turn your home around, kick clutter to the curb, and help you stay organized. 

clutter stress

Why should you care about clutter?

Some people can’t stand to live in a cluttered home. Others can live with clutter, no problem – at least, that’s what you might think.

Clutter can have a serious impact on our health and wellbeing, whether we realize it or not.

The mere presence of too much stuff in our space can cause us to get anxious and create stress. And it can make it difficult, if not impossible, to focus our full attention on whatever truly needs it. 

Not only that, but clutter makes it difficult to find anything you’re looking for, and it adds a lot of extra work to your plate when it’s time to clean up.

Whether you clean around your clutter or take advantage of opportunities to try to tackle your mess, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed – ideally, sooner rather than later. 

Six Bad Habits That Create Clutter

Not sure what things might be making your home feel cluttered? I’ve got you covered. There are a number of different habits that can contribute to a cluttered home.

As you read them, consider which of these bad habits that create clutter resonate with you the most.

bad habits that create clutter

1. When you get home, you put your stuff anywhere

When you’re coming home after a long day of work, do you take the time to put your shoes away, hang your coat, and put your purse and keys in the proper spot?

Or do you dump everything onto a side table, a chair, or the floor and collapse onto the couch?

If you do the latter, you’re reinforcing a bad habit that’s definitely contributing to your cluttered home. When our first instinct after we enter our space is to make a mess and create clutter, we’re setting ourselves up for failure as we navigate the rest of our day. 

The same thing applies when you’re coming home from a shopping trip. Do you put the items you purchased away immediately?

Or do they stay in shopping bags and sometimes end up completely forgotten about for a period of time? Putting things in random places that they don’t belong is a bad habit that creates clutter and frustration when you can’t find it later.

2. You buy things without a plan.

Another habit that’s contributes to a cluttered home? 

Buying stuff that you don’t actually need or have room for.

Almost all of us are guilty of it. Those dollar bins at the front of Target? They’re hard to avoid.

And when you’re out shopping for something specific, it’s easy to find your eye wandering toward other stuff you might not necessarily need – but you sure do want.

Impulse buying can leave you with way too much stuff than you actually need and can really make your house feel cluttered. Not being selective with what you’re bringing into your house can lead to a headache later.

This is especially true if you’re buying stuff that can’t easily be put away, like furniture, plants, lamps, and decorations – but even smaller stuff can quickly become an overwhelming mess. 

bad habits that create clutter

3. You don’t put things back where they belong after you use them.

After getting ready in the morning, do you put all of the toiletries and beauty items back to where they belong?

Or, especially if you’re in a hurry, do you leave them out since you’re going to use them again tomorrow anyway?

It’s easy to get into the habit of not putting things back where they’re supposed to go. And how we end up with a stack of books on our nightstand – instead of our bookcase.

It’s how we find ourselves searching for chargers, keys, phones, hair clips, and all kinds of other miscellaneous odds and ends that should have a designated spot to go in your home – but tend to wind up all over the place.

Leaving things wherever they happen to land instead of putting them back where they actually are meant to be can be a huge contributor to your cluttered house. 

We often tell ourselves that we will get to it later, but later is the best friend of clutter.

4. You put everything into a junk drawer.

Maybe, instead of putting things in random places, you put everything into the same place – the junk drawer, or perhaps even a junk room.

Most people have a junk drawer, or even two. Others end up with a spare bedroom (or garage) where random items get dumped.  

In theory, they’re a designated spot for little things you’ll definitely use later and don’t want to lose track of.

In reality? They’re the dumping ground for everything small that you can’t really find another home for.

Tea candles, extra batteries, loose change, decks of cards, spare keys, and all kinds of other things can wind up in junk drawers. And often, they’re so full and chaotic that you can’t really find anything useful inside them – at least, not what you’re looking for.

Just because your cluttered junk drawer isn’t visible to every guest who enters your house doesn’t mean it isn’t contributing to your cluttered home.

Believe me, it is. 

bad habits that create clutter

5. You’re getting things because they’re a ‘good deal’.

It’s easy to bring more things into your home than you intended because they were a good deal.

If you’re a fan of getting things for cheap or free, it’s important to realize that even if you paid nothing for an item it still costs you in time, space, and maintenance.

Think carefully about every item that you allow to enter your home. Just because it’s a great deal (or even free) doesn’t mean you need it or will use it.

While buying in bulk (I’m looking at you, Costco) can make sense for some things, it can also end up creating clutter in other instances. Be sure that whatever you’re buying will get used and not take up large amounts of storage space for extended periods of time.

It becomes easier to resist the temptation of deals once you’ve fully realized what your stuff costs you. After you’ve experienced the benefits of having a decluttered space, you will want to protect it and prevent clutter from piling up again.

6. You haven’t established systems in your home.

Sometimes the reason you don’t put things back to where they belong is because you haven’t established a home for them to go to.

If items don’t have an assigned home, then they get left in a variety of places making them more difficult to find and also contributing to the clutter in your home.

Without established systems, no one in the household knows where those things need to go when they’re done using them.

While it’s easy to blame others in the home for causing the clutter, consider if the lack of having an organizational system that is easily understood by everyone is part of the problem.

How to Break Bad Habits That Are Creating Clutter

Now that you know what habits are contributing to your cluttered house, you can call them out and begin to change them. 

Kicking old habits to the curb and embracing new ones isn’t always easy, but the results make it worth the effort. 

Consider embracing a couple of these habits to transform your home from cluttered to neat and tidy:

Spend at least ten minutes each day tidying up your space.

It’s normal for things to get out of order throughout the course of the day. Dedicating a set period of time – anywhere from five to fifteen minutes – to clean up your space can make a dramatic difference.

Use this time to clear your kitchen countertops, put away those dirty clothes and dishes, toss any mail you don’t need to keep, or otherwise collect the random stuff you’ve scattered around your space and put it where it belongs.

Set a timer and stick to it. You’ll be surprised to see how much of an impact you can make in so little time.

Don’t leave items sitting out as your reminder to take care of them. Schedule the project in your phone or put it on a to-do list that you’ll refer to.

Creating this decluttering habit will go a long way to having a clutter-free space! Include the other members of your household in this daily habit.

Wait at least a day before making a purchase.

Does a lot of your clutter come from buying stuff that you don’t actually need or have a place to store?

Give yourself a waiting period before making new purchases. That way, you have time to consider a few important things:

  • Do you actually want it? 
  • Do you need it?
  • And do you have space to store it? Where will it go?
  • Are you replacing something you have? If yes, what are you going to do with the thing you already have?

By thinking through the rationale behind your purchase and what you’re actually going to do once you have it, you’ll have a chance to change your mind.

And if you don’t? You’ll have time to figure out where it’s going to go, preventing clutter from accumulating – and if you’re replacing something, will give you time to figure out where to donate it or otherwise get it out of your home.

Create sustainable systems in your home

An important habit to create for keeping a clutter-free space is putting things back where they belong. In order to do that, you need to have an assigned home for everything.

And by everything, I mean every thing.

Each item needs to have a straightforward and easy storage solution that makes sense to you and your family members.

Create a sustainable organization system that works for your home and then make sure that all family members understand where things belong.

That doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will put things away immediately. It may take some time, reminders, and modeling.

When cleaning up together becomes part of your family’s routine, it makes it easier for everyone to get on board with the new system.

Which bad habits that create clutter resonated with you? Share it in the comments section!

The good news is that once you identify the bad habits that create clutter in your home, you can proactively work to stop them and replace them with habits that will keep your home clutter-free.

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  1. Great post Julianna! I lived in a 400 sq ft studio apartment for the first 10 years of my marriage and if I didn’t make the bed the whole house looked messy. I learned that you have to have easy places to put stuff away and always put them away because I simply did not have room to leave them out. I learned that doing a couple dishes right away is a lot easier than letting them pile up and doing laundry once a week is a lot better than doing it all the time or not doing it for a long time. If you simply get in the habit of putting things away as you go everything becomes a lot easier and your home stays tidy!

  2. Thanks for a great practical post. Reading it I realised you need to tackle clutter on multiple fronts, including the discipline of putting things away and the foundation of a system that means there’s a logical place for everything. One without the other won’t be sustainable.

  3. One small New Years Resolution my husband and I made a few years back was to always load the dishwasher before retiring to bed. Wonderful to get up to a tidy kitchen and being sure my favourite mug was ready and waiting for my morning cup of tea…we live in England!!

  4. I always make my meal menus out a few days in advance and put it where I can see it. Before bed I will read the menu for the next day and take meat etc. out of the freezer. Then I will set the table for breakfast. It’s so nice to get up the next morning to know what’s for breakfast and it’s almost ready.

  5. Especially loved the comment on 12/28 about loading dishwasher at night to have favotite clean mug next morning! Just now reading post from Dec and found I have all 6 bad habits so will work on all, starting with a pause before purchasing.

  6. I have a junk room and I am going to take your advice and start dejunking.
    I always make sure my kitchen is clean before retiring at night.

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